Additional helicopters may be used in search and rescue

Singapore has asked the three remaining bidders in its naval helicopter competition to respond to a supplementary invitation to tender (ITT) for an additional two to six helicopters for the utility role.

According to industry sources, Singapore may operate the additional aircraft from its landing ships and use them for search and rescue missions. It also wants the option to equip them with the unspecified anti-submarine warfare (ASW) mission system to be fitted to the eight naval helicopters it plans to acquire for use with six Lafayette-class frigates being delivered from 2005.

The Eurocopter AS532SC Cougar, NH Industries NH90 and Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk are on Singapore's naval helicopter shortlist. The three manufacturers responded to the naval helicopter request for proposals at the end of January.

EADS has agreed to allow Agusta to take responsibility for the NH90 campaign in Singapore to allay fears of a potential conflict of interest, because EADS subsidiary Eurocopter is a 65.3% shareholder in NH Industries, but has 100% of the Cougar. Agusta owns 28.2% of NH Industries.

Eurocopter and Sikorsky are offering Singapore various solutions for the mission system, while NH Industries is likely to base its offer on the naval version of the NH90 under development for the Italian navy. Singapore is understood to be demanding full access to mission system software codes to allow it to develop future upgrades.

A shortlist of two bidders is expected by year-end and Singapore is scheduled to announce the winner early next year.

Source: Flight International